Thirty years ago, on Sept. 11, 1990 to be exact, I wrote on this page:
“Today, some boisterous activities will remind us that it is the birth anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos. Yes, let us not forget the 13 years of tyranny and the 20 years of plunder.
“Let us not forget his mockery of the Constitution when he held on to the post of president after his term had expired, in contravention to the provisions of the Constitution which he twice swore in 1965 and in 1969 to uphold and defend. He promulgated laws and decrees that the basic law of the land had not empowered him to do.
“Let us not forget his sadistic torture of the people. According to Task Force Detainees, more than 70,000 citizens were arrested and detained, and at least 2,250 tortured and salvaged from the time martial law was imposed on Sept. 23, 1972 to October 1985. In most cases, no charges or complaints were filed against those arrested. Many gave gruesome accounts of beatings with rifle butts, burning of genitals, water cure, electric shock, and savage gang rapes.
“Let us not forget his muzzling of the press. He shut down media establishments and imposed government control over the other means of communication on Sept. 23, 1972. However, he reopened within hours KBS Channel 9, owned by his crony Roberto Benedicto, to disseminate the proclamation of martial law and to propagandize the New Society.
“Let us not forget his subjugation and prostitution of the judiciary. He turned the Supreme Court, which in the early Fifties earned the sobriquet ‘“the last bulwark of the civil liberties,’ into his political instrument by packing it with fawning former classmates and docile followers.
“He reduced the judiciary into a submissive adjunct of Malacañang. By issuing LOI No. 11, which required judges to submit their resignations, a judge could be dismissed from the service for any fancied cause by simply accepting his resignation anytime Marcos felt it was time to get rid of him. With the sword of Damocles hanging over their head, the judges could only do the despot’s bidding.
“Let us not forget that the late dictator politicized and corrupted the officer corps of the military. He licensed commanding generals and provincial commanders to exercise political powers previously exercised by civilian authorities. Generals sat regularly in Cabinet meetings and even in the KBL caucus sessions. Many amassed unexplained wealth. A number of generals ran smuggling, gambling, drug, and even carnapping syndicates.
“Let us not forget that Marcos looted the country clean. There is no need to detail this matter here as the recent Imelda trial in New York gave the minutest details of this thievery. The details were never disputed. If the jury acquitted Imelda, it is because the naïve members of the jury fell for the ludicrous claim that Imelda never knew of the 20-year looting.
“Let us not forget all these so that 27 years from now, when the 100th birth anniversary of Marcos is observed by those he made rich and powerful, he will not be called “that great Filipino president.”
Exactly 11 years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, I wrote:
“I asked the readers 11 years ago that if they are reminded of Marcos’ birthday to remember as well the 13 years of tyranny and 20 years of plunder.
“My exhortations were all for naught for many of those who aided, abetted, and applauded the repression, pillage, torture, and looting now serve in the present government as Cabinet members, senators, congressmen, governors, and mayors. Tourism Secretary Richard Gordon and National Security Adviser Roilo Golez were once the fair-haired boys in Marcos’ enormous political apparatus. The Senate now counts among its members KBL stalwarts Blas Ople and Renato Cayetano, zealous martial law military officers Gregorio Honasan and Panfilo Lacson, and corporate lawyers Edgardo Angara and Franklin Drilon.
“The Lower House of Congress is packed with former Marcos political lieutenants and their scions. Sons of Marcos staunch supporters Johnny Ponce Enrile, Maria Clara Lobregat, Johnny Remulla, Salvador Escudero, and Eduardo Cojuangco, just to name a few, now represent Marcos bailiwicks in that chamber. And Speaker of the House is Jose de Venecia, a Marcos disciple of the highest order.
“It is ironic that President Aquino appointed in quick succession to her Cabinet men who lawyered for Marcos cronies: Franklin Drilon for Cojuangco, Mat Caparas for Jose Campos, Conrado Vasquez for Emilio Yap. At one time, those directly involved with the recovery of ill-gotten wealth, Secretary of Justice Drilon, PCGG Chairman Caparas, and Ombudsman Vasquez were former lawyers of the biggest Marcos cronies.”
After the passage of 10 more years, on June 14, 2011, I wrote:
“How easily people have forgotten his crimes. Now half of the population thinks he deserves to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani simply because he was once president of the country. Recently 204 out of 283 members of the House of Representatives signed a resolution authored by Salvador Escudero, Minister of Agriculture during the Marcos Dictatorship, urging PNoy to allow the burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. It is no surprise that among the signatories are Imelda Marcos and other Congressmen surnamed Enrile, Remulla, Cojuangco, Crisologo, Farinas, Ejercito, and Espina. Those names stood for power and privilege during the Marcos regime.”
In my column of Sept. 11, 2001, I also wrote, “As we are reminded of Marcos today, his birth anniversary, it would do us well if we recall what life was like when he ruled over the land. It would do us well if we reflect on what life would be like if a man who considers Marcos the greatest president and who looks up to him as his role model becomes president.”
That was in reference to Panfilo Lacson who was ostensibly preparing that year for a presidential run in the next elections. Fifteen years later another man who considers Marcos the greatest president and who looks up to him as his role model ran for president. It was apparent 16 million voters did not reflect on what life would be like if he was elected president. So, Rodrigo Duterte became president. Life today is to a large extent like when Marcos ruled over the land.
As he had promised during his run for the presidency, President Duterte, with the willing cooperation of his appointees in the Supreme Court, had Marcos buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. It would not be far-fetched if before his term expires, he would get his minions in Congress to pass a law declaring Sept. 11 a national holiday.
Speaking of national holidays, Sept. 21 just might also be declared one by President Duterte. Marcos declared Sept. 21 as Thanksgiving Day because he declared martial law on that day, or so he claimed. He had a fetish for the number seven and 21 is divisible by seven. The fact is martial law was imposed on Sept. 23. But because we remain under the spell of Marcos, we continue to remember Sept. 21 as martial law day — as Marcos wanted us to remember.
Oscar P. Lagman, Jr. is a retired corporate executive, business consultant, and management professor. He has been a politicized citizen since his college days in the late 1950s.